There are just a week to go until preliminary nominations close for the inaugural Korea Cup and Korea Sprint. The two international races, which will be sponsored by Keeneland, will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 11th.
The Keeneland Korea Cup has a total purse of 1 Billion Won ($830,000) – making it the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea – and the Keeneland Korea Sprint 700 Million Won ($600,000) and there has been keen interest in both races with close to 50 nominations from overseas so far. The bulk of those are from Japan and Singapore, however, horses from Hong Kong, UAE, France and Ireland are also set to take their chance.
Reports in Hong Kong confirm that well known runners Gun Pit and Circuit Land have been nominated for the Cup and Rich Tapestry and Super Jockey for the Sprint:
Early Cup and Sprint nominations from Japan and Singapore are strong too for the two races, which will be run on Seoul’s sand track at 1800M and 1200M respectively. While fewer in number, those from Europe and the UAE are also extremely competent. The full list of nominations, including local ones from Korea, will be released during next Friday’s card at Busan Racecourse. There will be a maximum field size of 16 for each race.
Keeneland, whose three annual sales are popular with Korean buyers, previously sponsored a race at Seoul on Derby Day in 2015 and were quick to acquire naming rights for the two races. “For many years, Keeneland has enjoyed a successful partnership with Korea and its horsemen through our premier horse sales. We now look forward to supporting the KRA as they prepare to welcome the world to Seoul” said Bill Thomason, Keeneland President and CEO in a joint press-release last month
In that same release the KRA’s Executive Director of Racing, Yangtae Park said of the event “Following our recent promotion to PART II and our successful hosting of international races with Japan and Singapore over the past three years, we are delighted to present the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea. Over the coming years, we plan to build this event into one of the top weekends of international racing in Asia.”
As the latest incarnation of the already established Asia Challenge Cup, the Sprint is included in Part II this year, while the Cup, despite being of greater value is not (and the current exchange rate has unfortunately meant it won’t be quite worth US$1M). However, both races look set to be very competitive and could be the start of something very exciting.
The same weekend also sees the running of exchange races at Seoul with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the official unveiling of the new 120 metre long “multi-vision” screen and the opening of the infield “horse experience” theme park.
Key Dates in the build up to the race are as follows:
Friday August 12: Preliminary Nominations close
Friday August 26: 1st/Entry/Nomination
Wednesday August 31: Overseas horses expected to begin arriving in Korea
Friday September 2: Late Entry/Nomination
Thursday September 8: Declarations/Barrier Draw
Sunday September 11: Race Day